the birth of death

the first thing i hear is the silence
it is quiet – way too quiet
in this one room there is no sound
no laughing, no chatting
no crying out for more pain meds
the tv is off
no bits and pieces of conversations
as the remote flips the channels
there’s no music either
no soft and relaxing tunes
drifting through the air
but the sound i miss most
is the steady rhythm of the mechanical ping
tapping away at 120-160 beats per minute

the second thing that strikes me is the space
the empty space
too many things are missing
the table is not set
the monitor is nowhere to be found
the yards and yards of pink and white paper
traced in black are conspicuously absent
no grandparents, no cousins
no nieces and nephews
nor aunts and uncles
nor brothers and sisters
the expectant father sits alone in the corner
slightly rocking with empty arms
on the bed, the mother-to-be curls up
in the fetal position of her unborn child
this is all wrong

still, no one speaks
no one turns on the lights
no one dares to enter into this ocean of emptiness
please won’t someone say something
please don’t let this be happening
but it is

when the time comes,
even then the quiet persists
broken only by the whispering
of the most necessary instructions
and then it is over
the baby appears


Steve Crossman, M.D., Assistant Professor, Family Medicine